Engineering Joy

I recently got into the act of
KonMari-ing my wardrobe. For those that don’t know, KonMari is a home
“decluttering” technique by a Japanese lady by the name of Marie Kondo. Every
few months or so, I get this itch to declutter, and remove anything that has
become unnecessary to my daily routine. I generally just decide to keep things
that I like, and throw out things that haven’t really been used in awhile. But
the KonMari technique takes things a step further in some interesting ways.

One is when in the act of removing
things from your life, feel the material of the clothing, or the texture of the
item in question, and see if it still “sparks joy” in your life. And those that
no longer do, those are the ones you discard. In some ways, it is just a
reframing of mindset, from a pragmatic perspective, to one that is perhaps, spiritually-enhanced.

The other interesting thing is that in
folding your clothes the KonMari way, it makes all of them easily visible. The
traditional way of folding and stacking clothes in drawers and on shelves means
space is saved but a lot of things are hidden and unused. Instead, by
presenting everything tidily in front of yourself, there is a certain Joy and
pride to that.

Coincidentally, about a month ago, I
also began reading Chade-Meng Tan’s book Joy
on Demand
, which is a book on meditation, the concept of Joy and how to
harness it, from the more pragmatic, and less “hokey” spiritual perspective of
a former software engineer. He speaks of seeking the joy in the mundane, even
from something simple like drawing breath, which in turn made his manic
depressive state far easier to bear. I could be being unduly dramatic, but we
are closing 2016 with a Trump presidency, death and destruction in Syria, and
other such horrific events (brutal vehicular accidents in both Singapore and
Berlin).

As I step into 2017, in a world fraught
with uncertainty and turmoil, and on the cusp of two new adventures (which I
will reveal in due time), I felt it was important that I first repurposed this
website – which was originally created back in 2011 as a repository for my
photographic pursuit – to become a singular platform for my hyper-focus on
self-expression.

From this platform, I aim to produce
original content as well as look inwardly at my ways of living, ways of
thinking and ways of being. My hope is to use it as a feedback loop for
continual self-improvement, and perhaps, affect you, the reader, in ways that
benefit yourself too.

So coming back to the smaller focus, and
the point of this post, one of the projects that I wanted to undertake was ways
of improving the touchpoints of Joy in my life. Since returning from Japan
(I’ve yet to upload the photo series), I have implemented three key things:

Regular
running

Regular
sleeping

Regular
meditation

I found being in the great outdoors of
Japan immensely humbling and perspective-realigning. So I implemented a regular
running routine – “5k minimum daily, unless not possible” – to help keep up a
minimal level of fitness, as well as allow me to appreciate the outdoors. Of
course, Singapore is no Japan, but running at East Coast Park, or on the side
paths of the residential areas near where I live, provides its own natural
pleasures.  It is also a form of
meditation, as I reflect on the daily and greater grind.

Sleeping six to seven hours a day, going
to bed and waking up on routine quite simply allows me to function with the
right amount of rest. Anything less is sub-optimal. What’s more, by framing my
waking hours with a strict sleeping schedule, it allows me to the treat the
time I have awake with more care.  I
invest every moment awake, doing something I care about.

Finally, I most recently implemented
meditation. I haven’t read anything technical to the effect, I simply took the
basic techniques as laid out by Chade-Meng in his book Joy on Demand, and try to follow through on them on a daily basis. I
make sure to devote at least 15 – 20 minutes to breathing exercises that
constitute simple meditation, daily upon waking. It has benefited me greatly in
stilling the furious rapids of my mind, and allowed me to stop acting as
impulsively as I normally do. I’m excited to see how far I can go with
meditation.

What else am I actively doing on a
day-to-day to engineer Joy?

WORK

Professional self-expression – Quite
simply, is the work that I do, the things I am responsible for in my job,
avenues of self-expression? Am I able to pursue a career that involves creative
and meaningful output, the act of which can be Joyous? At this time, I can say
yes. And I constantly remember to ask myself this question in order to readjust
my work output to meet this mindset, or vice versa.

Professional self-improvement – Reading
non-fiction literature relevant to my professional career, to help improve my
work, self and management processes is an act of joyous discovery. To that
effect, I am currently reading:

1)     
Chade-Meng Tan’s Joy on Demand

2)     Edward de Bono’s Serious Creativity – this is a little
more challenging a read, but I will finish it, after Book #1.

PLAY

Video games – This is what I have sworn
my life to, and every minute I spend on video games is an act of worship,
learning and adoration – all which promote Joy.

Writing – I have one overarching project
that has yet to really begin, but I plan to kick it into high gear in 2017, and
one small former daily pursuit of 500 words. The latter task has proven quite
difficult to achieve over the nine to ten years I have actively attempted to
produce a body of fiction. I will devote a separate blog post to this, but I
have more thoughts on how I intend to engineer optimal performance going into
2017 in this regard.

Learning Japanese – Japan is my Muse. So
it is only right that I understand it in its entirety by learning the language.
I honestly don’t have a strong affinity towards languages, so this is a constant
challenge. It doesn’t help that I haven’t been the most disciplined when it
comes to studying regularly. But just going to a weekly class has helped me
grasp the basics, and be more confident in approaching and striking up a
conversation with Japanese natives. I look to study Japanese with more fervor
in 2017.

Travel – I make it a point to visit a
new place once a year with Sam. This expands my perspective, and refreshes my
mind away from the comforts and confines of Singapore. This is one of the core
ways for me in which Joy manifests itself greatly, and my last trip to Japan
certainly contributed heavily to my overwhelming shift in behavior (for good). I
will be devoting an entire post (and photo series) on my recent trip to Japan down
the line.

BODY

Running – As explained previously.

Meditation – As explained previously.

Sleeping – As explained previously.

MISC

One of the two major adventures I will
be embarking on from 2017 falls under a miscellaneous category, and I apologize
for maintaining an air of mystery around it. I promise to reveal it in time,
but know that it will be an act of joyous living (hint).

In addition, there are other big and
small things that constantly perpetuate Joy – spending time with my partner,
hanging out with friends and fam, drinking a glass of water, sharing my
thoughts on the latest thing I watched or played on social media, hearing the
deep bass on a Weeknd song, to stretching out in my own bed.

I’m happy to have gotten all this out in
the open, and am excited to maintaining this blog going into 2017. In doing so,
I’ve sort of KonMari-ed my way of living, and derive pride and Joy from the
display. And perhaps, it has also helped or inspired you, the reader, in some
way. That would be wonderful.

Till next time.

Peace,

Jun

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